Creating in an out-of-sync world
A few weeks ago, I was collecting quotes about yielding to changes in our lives – in a positive way. Presently, the whole world is pondering the increase in school shootings…and the pall is palpable.
Like the small wildflowers that erupt in tiny crevices between desolate, dry rocks, those who must create endure.
Although our art may not be political per se, we often feel a strong urge to create beauty to combat the ugliness of evil –or to reveal truth amidst evil. When I taught high school literature, students often asked why I included so much history. I explained that literature (or any art is a reaction world events; it does not occur in a vacuum).
Many artists draw attention to a specific cause. Others gain a sense of comfort in the act of creating.
With that in mind, I urge you to follow your creative urges.
Many painters insist on warming up by painting each morning. Action creates energy. I have been advised to choose a random word from a thesaurus as a daily motivation. Julia Cameron, author of the notable The Artist’s Way, instructs us to write three “morning” pages. Gail McMeekin suggests taking 15 minutes a day – in solitude - to open to creative thoughts or practices.
According to one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L’Engle (best known for A Wrinkle in Time), “All of life is story, story unraveling and revealing meaning. Despite our inability to control circumstances, we are given the gift of being free to respond to them in our own way, creatively or destructively.”
-from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.”
- Julia Cameron
“If a branch is too rigid, it will break. Resist, and you will perish. Know how to yield, and you will survive.”
- Liezi, Lieh-tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living
As creative beings—we continue painting, writing, designing, composing. This habit will keep your mind at peace as you ponder beauty.
It may give you purpose as you create art designed to persuade. History is replete with artists and writers whose purpose has been to persuade.
In The Third of May 1808 Francisco Goya sought to commemorate Spanish resistance to Napoleon's armies. (below left)
Jonathan Swift urged the aristocratic landlords to lower taxes of starving people in his satirical “A Modest Proposal.”
In photographs such as her iconic “ Migrant Mother,” Dorothea Lange's photograph humanized the plight of those suffering during the Great Depression. (below right)
Although I have created art to make a statement, I often turn to beauty to nurture the eyes and soul. Below: three of my works. 1) from high school years: "Loss of Liberty" 2) to commemorate the intellect and talent of an older artist friend, Naomi 3) recent gouache study - from my travels between Bishop and Mammoth.
Art is powerful.
To strengthen the soul and the sanity of the artist.
To change the world.
Encourage artists around you!
I am delighted to announce that all three of my submissions to the 49th Multi Media Mini Show were juried in. Even more exciting, I won 2nd place!
The exhibit will continue through March 15th at the Redlands Art Association, 215 E. State St. in Redlands. Open Mon-Sat 11 - 4:30.The Opening Reception is 5-7 pm. Friday, Feb. 23, and an Award Reception is Sunday, February 25th at 1 pm
Below: Sunlit Mariana oil on wood panel, 10 x 10; Sun Alley, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12; Hillside Oaks, acrylic on linen, 8 x 10.
Happy Valentine's Day
I can't resist sharing nature's Valentine-which I only noticed in the photo later. This is in Joshua Tree National Park where I will be teaching a class in March for the Desert Institute. I confess, I put on my rose colored glasses!
More views from Lost Horse Campground (available by permission only)
Wednesday is Valentine’s Day!
What a great time to speak about passion-
-passion for art.
Which arts attract you, and how are feeding this passion??
I believe the arts contribute to our mind, spirit, soul and physical health.
Each day, you can add a bit of stress reducing, peace promoting beauty. Log onto Pandora channels which fill your soul! Add beauty to you walls with locally purchased art or poster reproductions of works by favorite masters. Dance when no one is looking! Take lessons - or attend a recital. Attend community theater or listen to a good drama via audio recordings. Stargaze. Read poetry aloud. You get the idea!
Many favor the beauty of verse of the King James Bible; read 1 Corinthians 13, the well-known love chapter. Or seek the verses of Kahlil Gibran, popular when I was young.
Pictured above is Robert Indiana's iconic design for a MoMA card, actually Christmas in 1966.
Instead of my usual tips and instructions about painting, this week I am focusing on passion for the arts. I had a very fortunate childhood- influenced by those who loved and practiced their art!
I speak often of my mother who, from the age of 12 when she was befriended by the poet Esther Baldwin York, belonged to a women’s association which supported the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH, and she had the privilege of knowing the colony founder’s wife, Marian MacDowell.
The most wonderful part of this “art club” was the strong friendship and respect among these women: pianists, poets, painters, prose writers, actors, dancers. They met monthly for decades. At each meeting, one presented a short concert, demonstration, lecture, reading and so forth. They encouraged one another and learned from each other. I occasionally attended meetings and was present when they met at our house (recruited to help clean and hostess!)
In Greek mythology, the nine muses were the Greek goddesses of inspiration in literature, science and the arts. According to Hesiod, the Greek poet and contemporary of Homer, each muse protected a different art and were symbolized by a unique item.
Calliope (epic poetry - writing tablet)
Clio (history - scroll)
Euterpe (lyric poetry - aulos, a Greek flute)
Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry - comic mask)
Melpomene (tragedy - tragic mask)
Terpsichore (dance - lyre)
Erato (love poetry - cithara, a Greek type of lyre)
Polyhymnia (sacred poetry – veil)
Urania (astronomy - globe and compass)
You may prefer the traditional subdivisions of the Seven Arts: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Music, Poetry, Dance, Performing.
The arts contribute to health, confidence, well-being, relaxation and appreciation of beauty. It is widely agreed that knowledge of music complements mathematics skill. I believe all subjects can be taught through the arts; it is a crime against society when the arts are cut from public schools.
The women in my mom’s “art club” left lasting impressions. Poet-composer, Ruth, wrote witty poetry, songs that were performed by Delores Hope, and tutored students at Fairfax High School. She was always “Ruth in the Blue Dress” to us. Jacqueline was a writer-journalist who traveled the world, returning with treasures for my dollhouse, such as the tiny copper pitcher and real silverware, and telling exotic stories. During the 60’s actress, Margaret, landed a part in an adult rated film and was a bit of a scandal among the more conservative women. Elizabeth was a concert pianist. Esther and was an award-winning poet (and my mother’s best friend).
These determined women raised funds to send to the colony through concerts and even an art themed cookbook. Each of these women became very real to me. Esther and family camped with us in Sequoia. I played with their daughters and have stayed in touch with some. I often wore their “hand-me-downs.”
When we married, Esther to read, composed a sonnet for my new groom and me! At the end of my mother’s life, three of these women made several trips (a long distance across LA for these older women) to visit her and yes, when she died, another sonnet was written.
Our senses hunger for beauty! On this Valentine’s Day, remember passion for expression.
So which art(s) are you passionate about? Which muse moves you?
Do you help young people to have opportunities for expression and exposure to the arts?
Take an extra moment this week to celebrate your favorite muse - or host a gathering to share.
Or let cupid’s arrow land, and send your love a personally created Valentine!
One of my original aims for this blog was to write about mixing a believable greens for landscapes, but alas, I have had my attention diverted to many other absorbing topics!
Most colors in nature are much more subtle than one first imagines. When painting skin tones, blues and greens are important undertones. When painting one of nature’s most prominent colors, green, the variety becomes infinite.
Interestingly, few colors have inspired so many similes, metaphors, verses and theories. Green has come to represent envy, money, nature, ecology, fertility, rebirth and much more. We speak of the village green, eating your greens, a greenhorn, The Greening of America 1970.
Here are four of my works where a variety of greens were required: Judi at Point Lobos (acrylic), Looking South from Big Sur (acrylic), Ellie Among the Poppies (acrylic), and Moonstone Beach (watercolor). Each required carefully looking to to convey the "greens" I saw. There are numerous shades, tints and tones for every color. Ask anyone who has sought the right lipstick!
I am not the first to blog about mixing the best colors for painting green, but as I am planning a workshop on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, it seems appropriate.
One of the first signs of an inexperienced painter can be using colors right out of the tubes, especially primary or Kelly green. Unless you reside on the Emerald Isle or a golf course (where the green of the grass is really shades away from Kelly), this fresh bright green is hard to find.
As you can see below, I began this week mixing and labeling color. I usually intuitively mix paint without a lot of thinking, but to explain where color comes from, this may prove helpful. Naturally, one would first mix a variety of blues with yellows to achieve green. Adding oranges and ocres to blues creates more muted tones. One of the most surprising blends is yellow plus black which will yield a green shade. There is controversy among painters as to whether one should use black, but I feel it has its place. I often avoid it and use a dark ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson and viridian to create a lively "black."
I would encourage you to mix many colors to create a variety of natural greens. Musicians know practice is crucial. Paint. Paint. Paint. Cooler yellows such as Hansa will create cooler greens. Warm cadmiums may yield the greens for a sunny vista. Colors opposite on the color wheel will create an earthy mud shade.
Water color "green" chart by Maria Stezhko on the blog, Craftsy.
This January 2023 marks 5 years of blogging about creativity, well-being and encouragement. Thank you to the many who have visited my website! I welcome comments and questions.
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